Here are 5 things you need to know
While the Government’s recent U-turn on plans for academisation undoubtedly left many headteachers breathing a sigh of relief, there are a significant number of schools still considering converting to academy school status.
For the outset, it may appear to be a daunting process with the potential to unnerve even the strongest of headteachers and their senior leadership teams, however it doesn't have to be. Here are the top 5 things we'd encourage any headteacher considering convering to bear in mind:
- You CAN still work with your LA:
Headteachers can still work with their Local Authorities (LAs); becoming an academy school does not mean you have to cut all ties with your LA. This should come as good news to headteachers who have strong relationships with their LAs, finding their advice and help useful and beneficial. The only difference is that they will not have a monopoly on how your school is run, nor will central government. This responsibility will fall solely on headteachers who will need to make a conscious decision about what will work best for their school and pupils. However, you can still enlist the help of your LA and engage with them as much, or as little, as you like.
- You have to ensure transparency:
Academies are monitored by regional school commissioners, headed up by Sir David Carter who was appointed National School Commissioner in February 2016, who will quickly intervene should any issues or concerns around attainment, for example, arise. As an academy, your school will be a registered charity, and as such it has to prepare annual financial statements, the transparency of which you are completely accountable for.
- Converting shouldn’t mean increased financial burden:
The Department for Education (DfE), has stressed that plans for academisation will be fully-funded, ‘offering the same academisation grants that have so far seen two-thirds of secondaries and one-fifth of primaries successfully become academies’. The DfE has also added that, ‘We have set aside funding to support a high-quality, fully academised school system. Overall, we have over £500 million available in this Parliament to build capacity - including recruiting excellent sponsors and encouraging the development of strong multi-academy trusts.’ So, new freedoms shouldn’t mean an increased financial burden on your school.
- You DON’T have to become part of a trust:
Academies can choose whether or not they want to become part of an academies trust; successful academies will not be forced to join up with other schools. While many academy schools do find it beneficial to join a trust, this is not mandatory.
- Parents can still be involved:
Whether it’s a mainstream school or an academy school, parental engagement is always a top priority. Both recognise the importance of the role of parents’, and both welcome them to sit on their board of trustees or governors.
We’d love to hear if you are planning on converting to academy status, and if you have any preparation tips that might help other headteachers, so please do get in touch!